The Pittsburgh Steelers have eight games remaining on their regular season schedule for 2017. They have already won six of their first eight games. And they get to play five of their eight remaining games in the comfort of Heinz Field. Their opponents have also gotten a lot less impressive than they seemed just a short time ago.
Consider this: as we stand here now, the Steelers are looking at the back half of a schedule that includes just two of six teams that can claim both to have a winning record and a healthy quarterback that can help them preserve that winning record.
One of those two teams is, naturally, the New England Patriots, with Tom Brady. That is going to be the game to circle, for obvious reasons. The Steelers simply don’t beat the Patriots very often. They might have to do that at least once to win the Super Bowl this year, if not twice.
The other is the (as of the time of this writing) Tennessee Titans, who come into the day with a 4-3 record after having just crawled by the Browns a week ago. They have Marcus Mariota at quarterback, who saw his season a year ago cut short by a knee injury.
Every other team the Steelers face entered this week with a .500 record or worse or had recently lost their starting quarterback. The division in particular is an ugly affair. The Baltimore Ravens and Joe Flacco are 4-4 heading into today’s game against the Titans. The Cincinnati Bengals are 3-4. The Cleveland Browns…
Each of their three remaining opponents have all lost their starting quarterback. The Indianapolis Colts are lucky to even be 2-6 this year without Andrew Luck. The Steelers will face them next week. The Houston Texans, now 3-4 and turning to Tom Savage, just lost Deshaun Watson.
The Green Bay Packers host the 3-4 Lions tomorrow night with their own 4-3 record, but it will be awfully difficult for them to maintain that without Aaron Rodgers. Their backup, Brett Hundley, is hardly completing half of his passes so far, with one touchdown and four interceptions, though he also has a rushing touchdown.
Their biggest remaining test on the road has to come down to either the Bengals or the Texans. They have had the Bengals’ number for a while now, even in Cincinnati, yet Houston has also lost J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. The Colts are their only other road game.
That means that they get to host the Patriots, the Packers, the Titans, and the Ravens. And the Browns, of course. But suffice it to say that the schedule is set up in such a way that they are getting about the optimal circumstances they could have hoped for.